Who knew it could be this easy? Try these tips to have you waking up refreshed.
WORDS SUE-ANN BAUMGÄRTEL
Whether you are a mum to a newborn baby or are waiting up for your teenage son to return home when it is already past his curfew, being able to turn off and embrace sleep according to your own internal clock is a serious challenge for most mums. From having to wake up for the 3am feed, nursing a feverish child or changing your child’s sheets again after another pee accident, being a parent is a round-the-clock job. If in those distant child-free days, you were tired or had a long night, you could enjoy a guilt-free lie in on the weekend. Having another human being so intimately bound to you, for all its joys and adventures, is nonetheless demanding and exhausting.
Sleep is vital for your physical and mental health, and its importance should not be underestimated. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “sleep is as important to good health as diet and exercise. Insufficient sleep is linked to poor performance at work, obesity, diabetes, excessive risk-taking and heart disease”. In short, denying your body proper rest can seriously affect your whole body. However, as a parent, your family will also be affected by it. Like our newborn babies, we also have to (re)learn how to sleep.
The thought of exercise might cause new mums to shudder. Giving birth seems enough exercise to last a lifetime. Exercise might not be a priority for busy mums when there are so many other things to do. However, regular exercise has so many health benefits, including improving sleep.
A quick 15-minute workout in the afternoon will raise
your core body temperature, which will then drop by the evening,
leaving you more relaxed by bedtime.
2. The Bedroom
With baby and kids inevitably comes clutter. It is easy to get used to piles of papers and clothes, with stuff acting as a dust magnet. Keep your bedroom as your sanctuary. Organise clutter by using proper storage options. Make sure your mattress is the best you can afford, providing proper support while you sleep. Set up lighting to suit your needs – a soft lamp in the corner might be more relaxing than a ceiling lamp, while neat individual reading lamps give more control of light around the bed.
3. Coffee Time
Limit caffeine and other stimulants by avoiding them after mid afternoon. No amount of coffee or adrenaline can replace a well-rested body in the long run. It's like driving in first gear when you should be in cruise control.
Catch up on sleep whenever you can, especially if you have a newborn baby to look after. Nap while the baby sleeps. Or get someone to watch the kids, while you rest.
5. Bedtime Routine
Establish your own bedtime routine. Replace alcohol with herbal tea such as chamomile. Reduce your screen time in the evening. Use the end of the day to quietly reconnect with your family.
If your sleep quality is severely affected by insomnia, seek help. Mental chatter is hard to turn off, and sleep is usually the first thing that is affected by anxiety or depression. Looking after your family starts with looking after yourself.